But most people who suffer injustice in our world have plenty to say about it. They’re not without a voice. They need a platform.
I just got back from a press conference here in Durham with friends from neighborhoods like Walltown who have decided to speak out about the ways racial profiling, over-policing and police brutality are creating chaos in our community. As I listened to my brother, Dave Hall, who was shot outside his home this summer, it was manifestly clear that he can speak for himself. What I can do–what all of us can do–is stand with folks like Dave and say, “We’re listening. This voice matters. You should listen to.”
Here’s press release for today’s March and Rally in Durham that Dave and the Fostering Alternatives to Drug Enforcement (FADE) coalition are leading. I hope you’ll listen. And I hope you’ll come out and stand with us here in Durham this evening.
March & Rally Demanding Police Accountability & Community Oversight in Durham
Join us on Monday September 16, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. as we march and rally, calling for an end to racial discrimination and police brutality in Durham. The March will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Durham Police Department and end at 101 City Plaza. At 7:00 p.m., we will begin a community speak-out at 101 City Plaza for individuals, families, and friends of those directly impacted by the persistent patterns of racial discrimination and police misconduct. Community members will announce their demands for a reconciliation process that addresses their needs. These concerns and demands will also be presented before the City Council Work Session on Thursday September 19, 2013 at 1 p.m.
Durham NC has a rich cultural history and has received national acclaim for being America’s most tolerant city, the tastiest town in the South, and one of the top twenty five best places to retire in the US.
Yet the following findings and incidents raise profound concerns about systemic department policies and speak to a sickness in the City of Medicine:
A UNC study of racial profiling over the last 10 years found that Black motorists in Durham are more than 200% more likely than white motorists to be searched by law enforcement as a result of routine traffic stops.
In October 2012, Stephanie Nickerson, a young African American Navy veteran, was brutally beaten by a Durham police officer who was allowed to resign, with no charges, and it was later conceded that he used more force than necessary.
In December 2012, Carlos Riley Jr, a young African American brother and son, was targeted and unjustly pulled over by a Durham police officer only to have to fight for his very life from the front seat of his car. He now sits in a prison cell on a $1.5 million bond.
During preparations for an early July 2013 news conference on a recent string of shootings, Durham’s Chief Lopez allegedly belittled the shooting by saying all the recent victims had been black and involved in criminal activity. One assistant chief pointed out that one of the victims was a lawyer. Lopez is alleged to have “responded by saying that the lawyer deserved to get shot because he was a public defender”.
In late July 2013, Jose Ocampo, a beloved Honduran father, was fatally shot by a Durham Police Officer. The Chief of Police publicly defended the shooting prior to an official investigation even though Mr. Ocampo’s neighbors have a different accounting of events.
In August 2013, Chief Lopez announced that it is “not enough to be a victim” when immigrant survivors of abuse and crime seek the necessary protections under a federal U-Visa which is intended for such people.
A lack of accountability allows these injustices to persist. For example, between 2004 and 2009, Durham residents filed 252 complaints against the Durham Police, but two-thirds of them were dismissed, and only 5 were reviewed by Durham’s Civilian Review Board which is supposed to provide some community oversight.
A city cannot claim itself robust and well when its residents are encountering negative disparities along racial lines. We residents of Durham demand an empowered seat ,at the table as we collectively begin this urgent work of reconciliation so that all of Durham’s residents can experience the benefits of our robust city.
FADE is a campaign of the Durham Second Chance Alliance (DSCA). The purpose of FADE is to advocate for the reclassification of Marijuana, currently a misdemeanor to a non-criminal infraction. DSCA believes this policy change will begin a paradigm shift in Drug Enforcement–away from a criminal justice and punishment scheme towards a civil penalty and treatment model.
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